Search This Blog


Friday, March 07, 2014

Sophie's 5 Strange Ways to Clean Up Junk

According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of debris are tracked as they orbit the earth. Individual pieces can travel at speeds of up to 28,000 kilometers per hour, creating a potentially dangerous situation for both satellites and astronauts alike. In this episode of The Coundown, we look at some of the strangest proposals to combat the ever-growing cloud of space junk. One of them, an electrified tether created by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch on February 28th, 2014.

Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 Coming Together with Delta IV Booster

On March 4, 2014, two of the three Delta IV Heavy boosters for NASA's upcoming Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) with the Orion spacecraft arrived by barge at Port Canaveral.

The core booster and the starboard booster were offloaded and then transported to the Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) at Space Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The port booster is planned to be shipped to Cape Canaveral in April. At the HIF, all three booster stages will be processed and checked out prior to being moved to the nearby launch pad and hoisted into position.

Liftoff with Orion is planned for fall 2014. During the flight test, Orion will travel farther into space than any human spacecraft has gone in more than 40 years. The data gathered during the flight will influence design decisions, validate existing computer models and innovative new approaches to space systems development, as well as reduce overall mission risks and costs for later Orion flights.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Future Cygnus Payload Return from the International Space Station?

Chris Bergin at NASA has noted that the recently released NASA Commercial Resupply2 (CRS2) RFP document includes a provision that the Agency is looking at a requirement that would result in the return/disposal of up to 14,250 to 16,750 kg of pressurized cargo and the disposal of 1,500 to 4,000 kg of unpressurized cargo per year.

Orbital Sciences Corporation does NOT now have the technology readiness capability placing at risk some of the future of commercial operations at Wallops Island, Va. at the end of 2016.

NASA Langley Research Center has been conducting tests of the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) at Wallops Island. The focus of the initial development and demonstration of hypersonic inflatable aeroshell and technologies suitable for returning mass from the International Space Station.

The last test of HIVE was aboard the IRVE-3 flight test in 2012. The High Energy Atmospheric Reentry Test (HEART) is a design concept for a flight test that would demonstrate a larger HIAD with a diameter of almost 30 feet (8 meters). Langley aspires for further testing from Wallops Island.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Human Crews to Orbit and Moon from Wallops Island International Spaceport: why not?

Dominic Brown, meteorologist and journalist with WTKR in Hampton Roads, provided a report about Bigelow Aerospace interest in locating launch operations for human crews to orbit and to the surface of the moon from Virginia. More.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kennedy: The next new (commercial) frontier

Roanoke Times Guest OpEd: "The next dramatic moments in human spaceflight may not be from a square-jawed, buzz-cut, hotshot male aviator superhero piloting a spacecraft to the surface of the moon. Instead, it may be the corporate researcher mom holding a doctoral degree in lunar geology and mining engineering.

The next hero remembered by school students will most likely be that of a commercial space astronaut, one launched from Wallops Island, Va., not Cape Canaveral."  LIKE MORE!

Swiss Space Systems Tout Russian Cooperation

Swiss Space Systems (S3) is representing its country in the House of Switzerland at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It will showcase an innovative side of Switzerland, a country able to federate international partners around this vision of Space for all.

S3 proposes an innovative and sustainable system based and built on aeronautics. The main components of its system are re-usable and using standard fuels. The system has a high level of efficiency, flexibility and safety at an affordable cost. This way, S3 wants to democratize access to space by enabling companies and research institutes to do what has been impossible for most of them up to now: deploy their own satellites.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

China Low Key on Jade Rabbit Malfunction

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has endured a long lunar night but is still malfunctioning, state media said on Thursday, after technical problems last month cast uncertainty over the country's first moon landing.

Virginia Aerospace Days Leads to Two Senate Joint Resolutions and Budget Support

Scenes from the 9th Annual Aerospace Day in Richmond, Va., which includes meetings with legislators and an evening reception at the Library of Virginia with more than 50 NASA and aerospace industry exhibits. Contact teams reached over half of the state legislators to promote aerospace and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The events featured NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. Image Credit: NASA/Gary Banziger.

Two resolutions have been offered this week by Virginia State Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) and State Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott County)  relating to student space science activities in Wise County and Norton, Virginia (Senate Joint Resolution No. 141) and the recent efforts of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (Senate Joint Resolution No. 142). Other legislators offered their support to expanding the spaceport budget in the next fiscal year.

When Space Science Meets Earth Science: Coal Miners and Astronauts Now and the Future

The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky (Hazard) produced a video program comparing the science and techniques used in coal mining to that used in space exploration. A mining engineer (Bob Zik, TECO Coal) and a retired NASA astronaut (Bill Readdy) discuss the similarities of their jobs with two students (Derrick Stacy and Maddie Sluss).

Earth mining and moon and asteroid mining comparisons will be much discussed later in the 21st century as each contribution new knowledge to the other. Zero gravity and lunar gravity mining will be significantly different compared to Earth mining activities.

China's moon rover in life or death situation?

China's first lunar rover appears to have come back to life after it stopped functioning last month, but its fate is still uncertain.

Sahar TV Provides Overview of Iran Space

First Global Geologic Map of Jupiter's Moon Ganymede Revealed for Exploration

Surface features, such as furrows, grooves and impact craters are illustrated on this 360 degree view of Jupiter's Moon Ganymede. The best imagery from NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 and Galileo spacecrafts were used to create it. Galileo Galilei discovered it in 1610.  The Jovian system has so many a moon for humans to explore in the 21st century ahead.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NextGen Space Entrepreneur Jeff Feige Takes Helm of Space Frontier Foundation

The Board of Directors of the Space Frontier Foundation announced today that Bob Werb, Co-Founder and long-time Chairman of the Board, has retired from the position, and that they have unanimously elected space entrepreneur Jeff Feige to take over as the Foundation's new Chairman.

"Bob's extraordinary vision and leadership permeates every corner of our organization," said Foundation President James Pura. "As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our founding, you can look back at 25 years of his passionate contribution of ideas, common sense, and business excellence to nearly everything we've done to advocate for an open frontier in space for everyone."

"At the same time, a new generation of leaders has taken over the nuts and bolts of the Foundation, so we are very excited that Jeff Feige - a long-time Advocate and past conference manager - will be joining our Board again to lead us in our next phase of growth and achievement," Pura added.

Jeff Feige is currently the CEO of space and pressure suit provider Orbital Outfitters Ltd., and has served in this role for the past six years. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Talon Aerospace LLC., an aerospace LED lighting company focused on supporting the commercial aircraft industry.

Prior to his work with Orbital Outfitters, Jeff worked as a space business strategy and policy consultant at PoliSpace. Earlier, Jeff was the Assistant to the Executive Director of the Aerospace States Association (ASA), an organization representing U.S. state governments on aerospace and related economic development issues. In the past, Feige served on the Foundation's Board and managed both the Return to the Moon Conference and the NewSpace Conference. He holds a B.S. from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, and is an avid SCUBA diver, sailor, and private pilot.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Anti-Freeze Water flowing on Mars now?

Scientists say they believe they see seasonal salt water flowing down the side of a Martian slope.

Morpheus lander flies over space center

The fifth free-flight test of a Morpheus prototype lander was conducted Feb. 10, 2014, at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility.

The 74-second test began around 1 p.m. EST with the Morpheus lander launching from the ground over a flame trench and ascending at 42 feet per second to 467 feet, more than 160 feet higher than its last test. Morpheus then flew forward, covering 637 feet in 30 seconds before descending and landing on a dedicated pad inside the automated landing and hazard avoidance technology (ALHAT) hazard field. Morpheus landed on target.

There is one more test planned before the ALHAT system is installed on the vehicle, but the date of that flight has not yet been set. Morpheus tests NASA's automated landing and hazard avoidance technology and an engine that runs on liquid oxygen and methane, or "green" propellants.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

SAR-401 Robot Cosmonaut Prototype Testing

Russian Robonaut SAR-401 may meet-up with American Robonaut R2 in the future on-orbit. But for now, the testing continues in Star City, Russia - just outside Moscow.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Russian Cosmonaut Elena Serova Going to ISS

Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova discussed her thoughts on her upcoming launch on the Soyuz TMA-34a spacecraft in September to the International Space Station as part of the Expedition 41/42 crew in the fall 2014. Serova will become only the fourth Russian woman to fly in space, joining former cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova, Svetlana Savitskaya and Elena Kondakova in that exclusive group.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Whatever you do, do NOT watch to the end

THE LITTLE SPACEPORT THAT COULD: The past two-years have been busy on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, this 10-minute video provides the viewer an overview of the hot attractions that have appeared and boosted to orbit - the last and best in January 2014.  Get ready, the next campaign is underway for a May 1. 2014 target. Don't be chicken, dare to be there. Just find Arbuckle Road near Atlantic, Virginia - not far from the Wolff Sandwich Shoppe.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

What's Up For February 2014?

See all the planets, plus mission updates from comet and asteroid missions Dawn and Rosetta, notes Jane Houston Jones from NASA JPL.

Sunspot Complex AR1967 Rotates into View

The simply HUGE sunspot complex AR1967 rotates into view in this video from observations by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It's shown first in visible light, then ultraviolet, with a surprise appearance by the Moon crossing the Sun! The entire complex is far larger than Jupiter, and the one spot on the left could easily swallow the whole Earth. This cluster has been very active, blasting out many M-class flares.

CubeSat Deployments at ISS Set

A CubeSat deployer brought to the International Space Station on the Cyngus capsule in January has been installed in in the Japanese Experiment Module Airlock and will start deploying the tiny satellites Februay 6, 2014.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Russians Gearging-Up for Cargo Run to ISS

The Russian Soyuz-U carrier rocket/ISS Progress 54 cargo spacecraft is on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch of the Soyuz-U space vehicle with the ISS Progress 54 transport cargo spacecraft is scheduled for February 5, 2014.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Leland Melvin to Retire from NASA This Week

Arsenio Hall brought Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education and former astronaut, on his show to share his story of perseverance and determination. Melvin, a native of Lynchburg, Va., is retiring from NASA at the end of January 2014 after nearly a quarter-of-a-century of service (SpaceRef).  Melvin flew two missions on the Space Shuttle Atlantis: as a mission specialist on STS-122 (February 7–20, 2008), and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129 (November 16–27, 2009).

Michio Kaku: Inspire for Tomorrow Today

Professor Michio Kaku talks about science education in this short clip. Expect his opinion on this subject and more in the upcoming documentary, Fight for Space.

Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York, a futurist, and a communicator and popularizer of science.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chinese Moon Rover Yutu Goes 'Dormant'

Chinese scientists are preparing to overhaul its moon rover "Yutu", after an abnormality was detected as it went dormant, CCTV and reports.

The information was revealed by the country's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Saturday. Chang'e-3 and the moon rover finished their work for a second lunar day, and both entered a lunar night mode. Before the moon rover went dormant, however, an abnormality was detected in its control system. Chang'e-3 successfully landed on moon on December 14, 2013. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weird "jelly doughnut" appears on Mars

Even 'Star Trek' actor William Shatner wants to know about the weird "jelly doughnut" rock on Mars found by NASA's Opportunity rover. Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover Program explains. -- Read more about the 'doughnut' discovery here:

New Horizons Pluto distant-encounter operations starts January 12, 2015

The pace of operations picks up significantly later this year. In late June the team will wake New Horizons for two and a half months of work, including optical-navigation ('homing') activities using the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) to refine the probe's course to Pluto.

The team will also check out the spacecraft's backup systems and science instruments; carry out a small course correction to trim up New Horizons' approach trajectory and closest-approach timing at Pluto; and gather some science data by measuring the variations in Pluto's and Charon's brightness as they rotate.

New Horizons is placed back into electronic slumber on Aug. 29, a 'rest' that lasts only until Dec. 7, 2014. From there it will stay awake for two years of Pluto encounter preparations, operations and data downlinks. Distant-encounter operations begin Jan. 12, 2015 for the subsequent closest approach flyby July 14, 2015.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

RETRO: A decade of Opportunity on Mars!

Opportunity, MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) remains alive and well after a decade of roving the surface of the red planet millions of miles away from Earth. Having already exceeded its planned 90 sol (Martian days) duration of activity by 9-years and 9-months, Opportunity continues to inspire and perform science.
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity observed this outcrop on the "Murray Ridge" portion of the rim of Endeavour Crater as the rover approached the 10th anniversary of its landing on Mars.

Opportunity: 10 Years on Mars - Science

Two Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet in January, 2004, on a 90-day mission. Spirit's mission lasted 2,269 days (over 6 years) and ended in 2010. Ten years after landing, the Opportunity rover continues to explore. The rover's science team explains how Opportunity traversed the Red Planet, examined the diverse environment and sent back data that transformed our understanding of Mars.

Some of the team members from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project were still in college -- or even high school -- when the rovers landed in 2004. Hear their stories of becoming part of this remarkably long-lived and successful mission.

There are no vehicle repair stations on Mars. The Opportunity rover landed on the Red Planet in January 2004 for a 90-day mission. Ten years later it's still going strong despite not being serviced by human hands in over a decade. The engineering discusses the demands of driving a rover millions of miles away, keeping it alive in the extreme Martian elements and doing long-distance repairs.

China's Chang'e-3 moon rover Yutu analyzes chemical composition of lunar soil

The Chinese lunar rover Chang'e-3 is practising its second round of science exploration. According to State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, Chang'e-3 has reached out its mechanical arms, and started to exam the elementary composition of the lunar surface. The arms are able to receive orders from Earth, 380,000 kilometers away, and perform operational and obstacle avoidance moves.